How Do You Discover Your Spiritual Gift(s)?

By Pastor Ron Jones, D.D., © Titus Institute, 2003

The question we should ask ourselves in serving the Lord is "What gift or gifts has God given to me to use for His glory?" This is more important than what ministry does God want me to do. We often want to pinpoint a particular ministry. But the ministry may change, but our giftedness does not. Our life circumstances may change, we may change jobs or have children. I was talking with three young couples about ministry. All had been involved in ministry when they were single and in college. All were now married and were struggling with feeling a sense that they had somehow slipped in their commitment to Christ. What they needed was someone to help them figure out what they should do about it. When I went through spiritual gifts with them, they were able to evaluate their ministry. Soon after that we started a young marrieds group. They all got involved in that. Then one of the young women who had the gifts of exhortation and administration got this group to take on organizing an evangelistic outreach that the whole church was involved in. Once they had the grid to evaluate serving the Lord, they went for it. And the Lord blessed them in many ways.

As human beings we go through life changes where we are no longer able to do the kind of ministry we had previously done in the same place, knowing what our gifts are helps us stay on track and evaluate what we can do for the Lord in our new situation. In Phil.1:12-14, Paul did not say "Well, I am a prisoner therefore my ministry of evangelism is over I'm washed up. I'll have to wait until I'm free to use my gifts. No, Paul looked for new opportunities to use his giftedness and serve the Lord while he was a prisoner. And he did and God brought the gospel to the Praetorian guard which was Caesar's special guard at Rome and other believer's in Rome were encouraged by Paul's example to preach Christ more courageously.

Paul knew where he fit and so wherever he went he knew what to do. In fact, God had changed his circumstance to use him in new and different ways. Many of you are new to Grace, maybe you have moved here from other cities or just from other churches. You are in new circumstances. Things are different. God has brought you here to use you in our midst. Understanding your giftedness helps evaluate where you can fit in. We need you!

The following are six ways to discover your gift(s).
1. Commit yourself to the Lord.

Paul tells us in Rom.12:1-2 that you are to submit yourself to Christ, turn away from the world, and transform your life by renewing your mind in the Scriptures. The context is spiritual gifts which he discusses in v.4-8. If you do not do this, you simply will lack the motivation to want to discover and use your spiritual gift. Reorder your priorities. It is amazing how if want to do something, we always somehow find the time.
2. Pray for God's leading

Mat.7:7 says that we should ask the Lord for what we need. Ask the Lord to help you discover what your gift or gifts are.
3. Evaluate your spiritual interests and desires.

When the Holy Spirit gave us the gift or gift He gave us the motivation to use it. Col.1:28 shows that Paul wanted to minister in the way that he was ministering using his gifts. He was drawn toward it. What are you interested in and what needs are you drawn toward meeting in people's lives? The questions that follow the definition of a particular gift above are for this purpose. Also, there are "Spiritual Gift Discovery Packets" that we have available to help you specifically evaluate your spiritual interests and desires. Also, with each gift comes frustrations, you become frustrated when you feel a particular need for which you are gifted is not being fulfilled.

For example, those with the gift of teaching are interested in explaining clearly the Word of God so others understand it. They are drawn to meet the spiritual need in others of understanding the truth of the Word of God. They become frustrated when they feel Christian are not having the Word explained clearly to them.

Those with the gift of exhortation are interested in urging others to apply the Word of God in their lives. They are driven to meet the need in Christians lives of growing in Christ and obeying Him. They become frustrated when they feel Christians aren't being urged enough to change their lives.

Those with the gift of evangelism are interested in bringing people into the kingdom of God. They are drawn toward those who do not know Christ to meet their need of salvation. They feel frustrated when Christians don't share their faith as a regular activity of their lives.

Those with the gift of mercy are interested in comforting others who are suffering. They are drawn toward relieving their physical and emotional needs. They get frustrated when they see those who are suffering neglected by others.

Those with the gift of giving are interested in giving financially to the Lord's work or to others. They are drawn toward meeting the financial and material needs of others. They get frustrated when they see Christians not give generously as a regular activity of their lives.

Those with the gift of administration are interested in leading Christians to accomplish a ministry objective for Christ. They want to meet the needs of a group of believers who need to get organized, get everybody moving in the same direction, and get something accomplished for Christ. They get frustrated when they see Christians spinning their wheels or neglecting crucial details when they are trying to accomplish a ministry for Christ.

Those with the gift of leadership are interested in leading a group of believers into greater love for Christ, for others, and for the lost. They are drawn toward meeting the spiritual needs of a group of believers as a whole and leading in fulfilling God's plan for His church. They get frustrated when they see a group of believers not growing in Christ, not fulfilling God's plan for the church, not moving toward greater love for Christ, for each other, and for the lost.

Those with the gift of helps are interested in helping people with needs or burdens that arise suddenly in their lives. They are drawn to rescuing people in time of immediate, unexpected and/or extraordinary need. They get frustrated when they see others who have sudden need not get helped right away.

Those with the gift of service are interested in assisting the body of Christ in fulfilling the Great Commission. They see the need that leaders have for assistance in a variety of ways and they want to meet that need. They get frustrated by the fact that more Christians don't help out in all these areas that need assistance.
4. Ask yourself the following questions under each of the nine spiritual gifts below and evaluate which gift seems to characterize you the most.

"Teaching"

This is the "spiritual ability to understand and explain effectively the text and truths of the Word of God." (Rom.12:7, 1 Cor.12:28)

1) Do you find that you are able to explain Biblical passages and truths to other believers in a clear and coherent presentation and enjoy doing that?

2) If you have taught the Scriptures, have others told you how much they learned when you have taught?

"Exhortation"

This is the "spiritual ability to effectively urge and encourage other believers with the Word of God to press on to greater obedience to Jesus Christ." (Rom.12:8)

1) Do you find it enjoyable and satisfying to urge others on to greater obedience in their spiritual lives?

2) Do you enjoy counseling and encouraging other believers with the Scriptures when they are going through personal problems and difficulties?

3) Do you find yourself drawn toward believers who are struggling and those who are struggling seek you out for counsel and encouragement?

"Evangelism"

This is the "spiritual ability to present the gospel in a clear and coherent way so that unbelievers accept Christ as Savior." (Eph.4:11)

1) Do you find it easy and enjoyable to lead a conversation with an unbeliever into discussing the gospel and do you share the gospel regularly?

2) Have you found that many people have come to Christ as a result of your witnessing?

"Mercy"

This is the "spiritual ability to effectively comfort and/or relieve the suffering believer through spiritual and/or physical means." (Rom.12:8)

1) Do you feel strong compassion for those believers who are suffering that moves you to comfort them and help relieve their suffering?

2) Are you drawn toward those ministries in the church that help relieve the suffering of other believers?

"Giving"

This is the "spiritual ability to give of one's material goods or financial resources sacrificially for the Lord's work and/or the financial and material needs of believers (above and beyond the Biblical responsibility of all believers)." (Rom.12:8)

1) When you give to the Lord's work or for the needs of believers, do you give generously and abundantly, above and beyond the Biblical responsibility of non-gifted believers?

"Administration"

This is the "spiritual ability to effectively plan, organize, and direct a group of Christians to accomplish a particular ministry objective in a harmonious and orderly way." (1 Cor.12:28)

1) Do you find it easy to plan out specific steps in detail that need to be taken to accomplish a particular ministry objective?

2) Do you find it easy to organize a group of saints into a smoothly working group to accomplish a ministry objective?

3) Do you find that other Christians have a confidence in your ability to direct them in a particular ministry objective in an organized way and they willingly follow you?

"Leadership"

This is the "spiritual ability to discern the spiritual needs of a group of Christians and lead them into fulfilling God's plan for them which is greater love for Christ, for one another, and for the lost." (Rom.12:8)

1) Are you able to discern the spiritual needs of a group of believers?

2) Do you have a desire to lead a group of believers into greater love for Christ, for one another, and for the lost?

3) Do Christians follow you when you attempt to lead them into this plan of God for them?

"Helps"

This is the "spiritual ability to effectively come to the aid of another believer to meet a personal, temporal (non-spiritual) burden or need which often is immediate, unexpected, and/or extraordinary." (1 Cor.12:28)

1) When a temporal (non-spiritual) need arises in a Christian's life that is sudden and immediate and you can meet that need, do you immediately respond to try to meet it?

2) Are you motivated by a strong desire to relieve that Christian of his or her burden or need that has arisen?

3) Do you have a greater desire to meet these kinds of needs on a need-by-need basis rather than meeting one of these needs on a long-term basis?

"Service"

This is the "spiritual ability to effectively perform self-sacrificial actions and tasks to assist the body of believers in the fulfillment of the Great Commission." (Rom.12:7)

1) Do you have a desire to assist somewhere in the ministry of the church?

2) Do you desire to use your talents and abilities to assist those are leading in the ministry of the church?
4. Seek the opinion of others who have watched you minister.

Another very helpful approach in discovering your gift is ask others who know you and have watched you minister what they think your gift is. Gifts often are more recognized by others than by your own self. They can see what you do well, where your bent in ministering to others is. For those of us who are leaders in the church we need to be challenging others to use their gift and help them recognize their giftedness and find ministry based on it for God. This is what others did in my life.
5. Evaluate your fruitfulness in ministries you have done in the past.

Look at what you have done when you have ministered to others and ask yourself where God has blessed and others have been blessed by you. In Acts 9:39 Dorcas had been effective in helping the widows. They were demonstrating that by their presence and tears. She probably had the gift of helps or mercy. Sometimes this can be done by the process of elimination. If you have taught and have not been that effective. You have eliminated that gift as a possibility and can move onto other gifts as possibilities. Either approach can prove helpful.
6. Begin ministering in an area that you think you might be gifted and see if you bear fruit in the lives of others.

If you do well and you are drawn toward it and others see that as an effective area of ministry - great, if not try something else. If you minister in children's ministry, and you love it. You don't it is okay to move on.
Discovering your spiritual gift is like discovering a natural talent. Sometimes you've just got to jump in and see what happens.

It isn't until your kids play soccer that you see if you have any natural talent in that area. It is often the same in spiritual gifts. I think that is one reason why the emphasis in the N.T. is not on discovering your spiritual gift, but on loving one another, serving one another, and building up one another. Rather than discover your gift and then do all those things.

This is especially important when you are younger - college age and below or if you come to Christ later in life. You may not have the ministry experience to be able to evaluate your giftedness, relax take your time, love others, follow your desires and see where the Lord leads you. Also, those with different gifts can do the same ministry, but there "bent" will be different as they do it. A variety of gifted Christians may volunteer to teach 3rd grade Sunday School. But according to their giftedness will approach it in a different way.

A Christian with the gift of teaching will want to make sure that the kids get alot of Biblical content and clearly understand what the Bible says and means. A Christian with the gift of exhortation will be very concerned about changing a child's life as result of the lesson. Application gets a heavy emphasis.

A Christian with the gift of administration will focus on the class structure and order and make sure all the details are taken care of and everyone follows rules. They will often break them up into small groups and are able to keep track of a variety of things happening at the same time.

A Christian with the gift of leadership will also focus on the total class, but will want to simplify the structure have everyone working on the same activity at the same time and will be able to handle a large group of kids at the same time without any difficulty.

A Christian with the gift of service or helps will often follow the lesson as given and feel joy in completing the ministry as given. Having overseen the children's ministry at my last church, I saw this all the time. I could often pick out people's giftedness just by observing how they went about ministry. What we often think are personality differences in the SS classroom may actually be differences in giftedness The purpose of discovering your spiritual gift or gifts is not to be a substitute for ministry. I can't serve the Lord effectively until I find my gift, but rather as you serve the Lord and love others, the discovering of your giftedness helps you to focus your energy. But it is in ministry that you discover you giftedness.
7. Identify your spiritual gift or gifts

After you have applied the above process, you can try to identify your gift.

The spiritual gift that fits your spiritual interests and desires for ministry and that you and others see bears fruit for Christ when you use it is your spiritual gift.

Most Christians have one spiritual gift. I believe that those whom God has called to lead in the church will have two spiritual gifts, one "speaking" gift (teaching, exhortation, or evangelism) and one "leadership gift" (administration or leadership).
Four Cautions:

1. Some Christians have a difficult time evaluating themselves and may not be able to discover their spiritual gift themselves. If you are like that, don't be discouraged, find another Christian who can help you in this process. Remember, spiritual giftedness emerges out of actually doing ministry and bearing fruit.

2. If you are the only one who thinks you have a particular spiritual gift and other Christians who know you do not think you do, you actually may not have that gift.

Gifts are not hidden. They are obvious to others. As a pastor I have spent alot of time recruiting people for ministry based on their spiritual gift. Most of the time I was able to identify their spiritual gift once I got to know them and see them in action. I would often let them try various ministry activities to see how they did and help identify their gift. But if someone told me they had a certain gift and I watch them minister and myself or others couldn't see it, I directed them to look at another possible spiritual gift as theirs.

3.If you are in your teens or twenties, you may not have had enough opportunity to minister as an adult to discern your gift or to demonstrate your gift to others and need more experience for you and others to see it. Get more experience by ministering and it will be seen.

4. If after all this, you still can't discover your spiritual gift, then for now assume you have the gift of service and find a place of ministry where you can assist others in ministry and watch the Holy Spirit work through you! Those with the gift of service, often can't see it because it is an assisting gift.